Shift Change by Diane Kendig

Always early, I sit in my car and listen to NPR; tonight,
a study claiming that D.A.R.E. has never worked
and principals don’t care: what they want
are cops in the hall.

At 4:34, I watch the shift at the sally port.
They move out alone, in pairs, and one boisterous group
surrounds the smiling White Shirt
who received flowers at work today.

A few pause at the new bricks
cemented into a semi-circle, and one by one
they peer down at a plaque embedded there.
A man my age lingers last, reads,

and runs his hand over his face. I’ve seen him
all week on the evening news.
He was to meet her for dinner and waited,
then went back in and found the body.

He keeps calling on the state to follow
its own contingencies, like enough two-way radios,
at least, fix the broken ones in storage.
A prison spokeswoman says the situation will be studied.

He gets into his car. I walk to the wall and read:
“For those who gave their lives in the line of duty here,”
and her name engraved on a new nameplate,
surrounded by nine new blank nameplates.

They are the state’s contingency plan.

 

 

Diane Kendigpoet, writer, translator and teacher for 40 years– has authored four poetry collections, most recently The Places We Find Ourselves. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, she has poems recently in J Journal, Wordgathering, and Ekphrasis, among others. She’s on the web: dianekendig.com and   http://dianekendig.blogspot.com/

The Jumper by James P. Roberts

He is visible
Behind the woman
Taking a selfie
With the Golden Gate bridge
In the background.

A tiny dot
Like a wounded crow
In the wide space
Of blue sky.

The steel spans frame
His descent
While she smiles
Unaware that in the next

Second, a geyser will fount
And she will be
Tomorrow’s Internet moment.

 

 

James P. Roberts is the author of four previous poetry collections. He has also written and published books in the fields of fantasy and science fiction, literary biography and baseball history. Recent work has appeared in Blue Heron Review and in a Madison Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition. James lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he is active in literary organizations and has a passion for women’s flat-track roller derby.

My Grandmother’s Radiance by Adam Ortiz

My Grandmother’s Radiance

lifted off the ground
and sailed gently
over a mountain
like a hot air balloon
in Santa Fe
in the summertime,

leaving behind a vacant lot
littered with cancer cells,
soda bottles, VHS tapes,
turbans, books on chemotherapy,
cigarette butts,
and us

trying desperately to shove it all
into plastic garbage bags.
Adam Ortiz is a poet and mostly vegan chef who lives in Massachusetts. Adam grew up in Las Vegas where he began writing poems about bright lights and ridiculous crushes. He never stopped. You can find him at ajarfullofwords.tumblr.com.

Ancient Myth by Joan Wilding

Ancient myth tells of Amazons
who ‘pinched’ off a breast
to improve their prowess in battle
With deadly accuracy, their arrows sped,
unimpeded and chest high,
piercing the enemy at their weakest points.

Do you reach out, my love, for a warm inviting mound
and come up empty,
your hand hovering, forgetting, uncertain,
and finally settling on the nippled side?

A decision was made, as then,
to sever for the greater good.
Did those warriors mourn their loss?
Was their sleep disturbed by regret?

I sleep knowing the enemy.

Joan Wilding was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lives with her husband in Kingston, Ontario. They have three children and six grandchildren. Joan is constantly impressed that the smallest personal interaction reflects a universal truth.

Three Poems by Lauren Klein

The Diluvialist

These curtains don’t want me to live,
Yet I go on sitting here,
Watching as they billow in the bluish wind.

The door opens and shuts so that cold shadows
Blow into the house. Lace flutters irregularly, and I
Think I may be bleeding internally.

My grey coat and tie, my shined black shoes
Hide it all from view,
But I don’t know what could stopper my heart.

The sky drops dark.
Suddenly it’s late.
I’m the only one awake.

 

Autobiography

I lost something.

Then it was night, I heard children yelling,
Their shouts echoed from where they ran
After a train through a forest,

Deep in a place to which I long to return.
These voices were flames in the dark, at last I could add my own
To the sound. When I opened my eyes I was still in exile.

Life was meant to begin, but my mind fell to nonsense.

 

Psychoanalytic Poem

In my red skirt I smoke as I talk of
All the forces grinding on my mind. A
Stream of words: rip rap ripe ray–have you ever
Dreamed you were eating an apple? No? Well,
Go on. Next, let me tell you what I see:
A trail into a forest, a sooty
Spiral winding through a grey sky. Doctor,
What does it all mean? I’ll tell you, but first,
The verdict: the presence of an apple
Would have made it true. I sigh. It’s nothing
But a drama of eyebrows. Outside, the
Streetlight stains the sky and the clouds orange,
In cheap imitation of the moon.

 

Lauren Klein is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto and an aspiring writer, artist, and translator. As hobbies, she enjoys vigilante comedy and natural science.

Mother and Daughter by Meaghan Andrews

White rice yellowed with butter,
a black pattern of pepper protectively
adhering to cooked grain—
breakfast, lunch, and dinner;
a spoonful of off-brand chocolate
frosting for dessert. A shared
single bedroom for me, you,
and your lovers. The familiar
burn of alcohol forever found
on your breath, but never
any money for meat.

 

 

Meaghan Andrews is a Georgia based writer with four poems having been previously published with The Fall Line Review. She also does editing.

Four Poems by Shahé Mankerian

50th*

Good people don’t go to heaven directly.
Sometimes detours lead them to gilded

gateways of Camelot, to subway grids
full of steam. In the interim, a chiffon

skirt swells high above the thighs
like a sanctimonious sail. Bypass the Bay

of Pigs wrapped in torn pages of The Crucible,
wrapped in warped roses of DiMaggio.

See the man pounding Ich bin ein Berliner
to the podium like nails to the burning crucifix.

A Lincoln convertible flashes its headlights
at the end of the tunnel. A misguided angel

descends on the grassy knoll, whispers,
Happy Birthday, Mr. President before going home.

*On the 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination

 

Will

When I die, bury me under a loquat tree.
If it’s not late December, rent a rain
or fog machine or both. There must be

a crooked angel nearby casting its shadow
over my casket, over the umbrellas.
Find a raven (not a crow) to perch

on the mossy halo. Bring the record player
and let’s listen to Shostakovich’s String
Quartet No. 8. Pass the nazook and allow

the priest to read “Figs” by D. H. Lawrence.
My daughter knows to keep the kite
steady overhead. If her fingers get tired,

remind her to tie the string to my shoe.

 

Turkification in Istanbul

The Byzantine gate to the underground
bathhouse looked steamy and calloused.

Before we used the rooster knocker, a towel
boy with trimmed whiskers held the door for us.

He pointed to the dwarf hidden behind the register.
I placed coins in her sweaty palm. Are you Jewish?

She asked in Turkish. We’re Armenians.
My wife smiled. The boy placed madras robes

on the bench near our feet. I’ll take your shoes
and polish them
. More Turkish. He bowed

to remove my dusty wingtips. My grandmother
prayed in Armenian
, he whispered,

but took the words with her when she died.

 

Moses

All the nuns at the orphanage were ruthless
except for Sister Francis. We called her Moses

because she had whiskers on her chin.
We learned to make fun of her from the older boys.

She talked to water lilies the way Mother
Superior talked to the picture of the pope.

Moses kissed trail of ants during knee-
bound prayers. We threw rotten eggs at her

and stole her shoes left by the convent door.
On Saturdays, she disappeared. Once we followed

her to the basement of the chapel. There, she lied
on a bed of thorns and cried all night. We stopped

throwing things at her and never stole her shoes again.

 

 

Shahé Mankerian’s manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at four prestigious competitions: the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, the Bibby First Book Competition, the Quercus Review Press (Fall Poetry Book Award), and the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Mizna.

yellow school bus by Brian Gilmore

he rose from his seat
he’s nine+++++ he understands

it all already+++++ or at least
he thinks he does

he begins the chant
a familiar cadence

‘white power white
power’+++++ he raises

his fist+++++ he turns to
my child+++++ like a wino

turns towards the
liquor store+++++ gamblers

towards race tracks+++ he
says what he says

his mother++ father++ cousins
uncles++ history++ the school

the one where the bus
is headed+++++ the one with

the civil war exhibit
confederate flags+++++ but no

explanations
he will get called out

for this+++++ the bus driver
tells him so+++++ this is the

north+++++ 2011 not
1911+++++ everyone on the

bus chuckles at him+++++ he will hear
more later perhaps at home

he sort of gets it+++++ he has
been told over and over
to smoke but not smoke

his parents coughing+++++ clutch-
ing kools or camels+++++ dragging

on them slow and beautifully
as he learns how to raise

his fist and chant++++ but oh how he
hates the smell of cigarette

smoke especially in a car
with the windows rolled

up++++ moon in the sky
north wind touching his

face delicately like the
dark silence of night

 

 

Brian Gilmore is a Washington D.C. poet and writer. He is author of three collections of poetry including his latest, ‘We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters.’ (Cherry Castle Publishing LLC). He teaches public interest law at Michigan State University. You can find him at https://about.me/brian.gilmore , https://www.facebook.com/brian.gilmore.313 , and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9j-DqnwwKc

The Blessing by Siobhan Campbell

How we nearly met our deaths on that bend –
watching his cassock and surplice,
the white of his collar against the black;
how he offered to give us his first blessing,
just ordained that hour with no-one to celebrate,
he was giving his outfit a walk on the roads.

We knelt, what else could we do?
His voice held the yearn of the ages,
threat of a gift we could not refuse.
It told of mass rocks and penal laws
the power of dissolving marriages
the fourth secret of Fatima.

We knelt to feel that life was serious,
though our fishing rods awaited and the flies
we tied that morning might be wilting,
though lake shadow would be moving fish
toward the bank where weeds
would reach right up to catch our lines.

We knelt and felt the power of his illusion;
he might have been talking to his lonely self,
counting things that tie him to the world,
no inheritance, but a scattering of Latin,
and a sense of the largeness of the arguments.

When he lifted a white hand, so clean
and clear was that hand that it drew
a world as it moved, a rise and fall
in it like a boat on a spring swell.
We didn’t hear a word he said.

Just at Amen, the ford transit van hurtled
round the corner and we leapt, sprang
from kneeling, jumped clear into the hedge,
scratches on our hands, thorns
in our sweaters, the cleric akimbo.

We nearly met our deaths,
but maybe we were ready
as ready as we’ll ever be
given his first blessing.

 

 

Siobhan Campbell is an award-winning poet, author of four collections. She received the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize in 2016. Cross-Talk from Seren Press is ‘unsparingly strong… a fine and ferocious book’ PNReview. Her new book, Heat Signature is due in 2017 along with Inside History: Eavan Boland from Arlen House. You can find out more about her at siobhancampbell.com @poetrySiobhan

Two Poems by Rachel Rear

Newtown

I am stalwart as tradition.
But that day,
Skeptical of safety,
They saw me choke.

Brooklyn to Newtown, 85 miles.
For us, not diversion, not media amusement.
Indeed near enough that the
Imagined cacophony of
Shots and shouts seemed more
Audible than the radio news.

How many synonyms for fear can we list, class?
Every face a thesaurus of trepidation.

Stories flurried, of an irascible man,
Of innocence reaped like macheted melons.

What could we do?
In earnest, with tenderness,
We cut hundreds of
Paper snowflakes in a
Multitude of aesthetics,
Creating as if to breathe
Life into them.
Boxed them and mailed them,
Like kachinas of comfort sent
Through the postal service.
Pathetic cosmetics for what we
Truly felt.

 

Destination

We walk these blocks – look into the consciences of living rooms.
Everything feels warm.

Mulled cider and streetlight stars; we keep walking, hushed.

The leaves are dying. You smell like soap.
I hum an old jazz standard.

(Autumn in New York brings the promise of new love.)

Country after country on Broadway –
garlic, sesame, butter, curry, olives, vinegar, pepper, apples,
then a scent of coffee and baking.

A church glows –
a grey woman in a grey coat, a film noir extra,
caresses the flyers as she would a child’s hair.

The street swirls.

How can I love you,
when downtown floodlights chill the night, tear through autumn,
drown the graves of thousands?

 

 

Rachel Rear is a teacher, writer, actor, and sometime aerialist living in Brooklyn, New York. She completed her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University, her MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and her MFA at The New School. She teaches 8th grade and has also taught high school and college. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times’ LA Affairs section, in the Washington Post’s Solo-ish section, and in Off The Coast Poetry Journal. She is working on her first book. She can be found on Twitter @RaeRear.